To Sleep or not to Sleep

Bob’s chirp—staccato and loud enough to jar me from my stupor—was followed by her ritualistic head bobbing and a softer, rolling chirping. I lay there, eyes still closed, forcing myself to listen to her gentler song, trying to wake my brain and force myself back into full consciousness. Bob began singing again and playing with the assortment of toys that line the top of her large flight cage. Her play is less obsessive than it was right after Dave II died. Her song sounds content, even cheerful, even though she has now been twice widowed.

How easy it would be to turn over, tug the sheet over my head, and slip back into my catatonic state— a sure sign of depression brought on by boredom, anxiety over two of my daughters’ inexorable march toward divorce, and the daily bizarre, heinous behavior of the U.S. president. I’m also bothered by my left knee complaining every time I climb the stairs, complemented in its distress by my right ankle. More precisely, it’s my Achilles tendon, which acts up sans any obvious cause. Worse, my three-week South Beach Diet accomplished no results.

The papery skin on the right side of my face, on my cheek, has a pattern of fine lines They’ve been there for years, but as my skin becomes more fragile, I find them more noticeable and, thus, more disagreeable. So, too, the puffy bags under my eyes, the multiple dents on my nose from patches of sun-damaged skin being frozen off, and the offensive grooves above my upper lip. Saggy boobs that defy shape and loose skin on my body, which continues to shrink, are particularly unpleasant. Why can’t I just sleep? Dreamless sleep, preferably, seems like a reasonable idea.

And then my depressing thoughts drift into a vision of Kelli Ann.

A woman in late middle age had been battling cancer. When it went into remission, she started an evening program at the local career center to get an LPN degree. During her final semester, the cancer returned, but this time there was no reprieve; it was terminal. Did she pull the sheet over her head and go to bed? No. I attended Kelli Ann’s graduation, watched her glowing with pride and accomplishment as she joyfully received her diploma. Not long ago, six weeks after her graduation, we buried her. Her classmates were all there to offer their final farewells . . . and to give thanks for her inspiration.

I’m not going back to sleep. I’m going to give Bob a parakeet treat. I’m going to put my “Elect Elizabeth Warren” decal on my car bumper. I’m going out to do something positive.

Published by Carole J. Garrison

I’m a conversationalist, an observer, a passionate participant in life. And now, in my later years, I’m a recorder of the lessons of my life through essays, stories, and novels. I live in the fourth moment of life, just outside the normal distribution of most people and it is from this place that I write.

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